My Comic-Con Experience–New York Comic-Con 2015

So, it’s been a while again. I had hoped to be more regular with posts here, but between the Jewish holiday season, finishing my third book (and revising another), as well as finally starting work on my graduate thesis, time has been tight.  I do have several planned posts lined up (a couple of book reviews, movie reviews, and another writing process related post or two), but seeing as this place is a bit starved for content, I should get something shorter (and simpler) up when the chance arose.

As such, I’m here today to talk about my experience attending New York Comic Con for the first time this year, on the Thursday of the con. In classic me fashion, I had hoped to get this up much sooner than I am in the end, but life is busy, and I am not the best at organizing my time.

First, a little background. As I said above, this was my first time attending the Comic-Con (yes, San Diego is bigger, but NYCC is among this biggest, so it deserves recognition), and it is by far the largest convention I’ve ever gone to. Up to this point, I’ve only ever been to one of the smaller Wizard World comic cons, World Fantasy Convention, and, of course, JordanCon. so it was like going straight into the deep end of the pool after having never gone out past where I could still stand.

It was definitely a little overwhelming, at least at first. None of the other conventions I’ve been to had anywhere this many people, nor filled such a huge space. I’ve lived in New York City my entire life (yes, I know, I fail for not having gone to NYCC before, but during high school I had zero free time, and it always fell smack in the middle of midterm season in college) and I had never been to the Javits Center. Holy crap is that place huge. I could walk for over twenty minutes non-stop and still be in the same room and have not seen everything. And that’s not even considering walking between areas for things like panels. I must’ve walked a good few miles today; at least it feels that way. The crowds also took some getting used to; navigating around, especially through the show floor, was kind of like driving in Manhattan. So much traffic, and so much to potentially get distracted by, it was so busy. To describe the show floor, all I need to say is that every stream of nerd was very well represented. From sci-fi/fantasy book publishers, to comic book companies, to gaming companies, to general nerdy merchandise retailers, to costuming supply shops, it’s a veritable marketplace, and it’s oh so easy to stay there all day and spend all your money. So unless you have a lot of spare cash, don’t linger too long–it’s less painful. On the other hand, many of the exhibitors do have some freebies to give away, as well as larger giveaways that take place through the day. I myself took part in one, but that’s a story I’ll tell as I go through my day.

The other main area worth describing in some detail is the Artist Alley, though it should more accurately be called Artist Market, as it’s also freaking huge. There had to have been well over a hundred artists displaying work there, and to check out each stand took about a half an hour of walking. Have I emphasized enough just how big this thing is?

That said and done, on to my day there. I arrived about when I’d hoped to, and got a chance to see the new 7 train station that lets out right near the Javits center–it looked almost out of place, as a clean subway station.

Finding the convention was extremely easy; even if there hadn’t been Comic Con employees with arrow signs pointing the way, all I had to do was follow the other people obviously going to the same place. As I already described, Comic Con was almost overwhelmingly big and crowded, and just so spread out that to get anywhere requires at least a few minutes of walking.

As I had time till the first panel I wanted to attend, I spent some time walking around the enormous show floor. Despite spending a decent amount of time there during the day, I doubt I saw everything, but I saw enough to know that if I had a lot of disposable cash, I could’ve spent it all. Fortunately, it soon neared time for my first planned panel of the day, which featured YouTuber Comicbookgirl19, who produces great content on topics ranging from X-Men to Game of Thrones to The Hunger Games. It was an excellent panel, mostly focused on how she and her director/show co-creator Tyson Wheeler, came up with the idea for what has become her successful YouTube channel, and the challenges along the way. Near the end of the panel, however, we all got a bonus surprise, as the panel was crashed by two of the stars of the HBO show Silicon Valley (along with a huge retinue of security, giant TV cameras, and I suspect some people just following the madness), as part of a Smirnoff ad campaign of some sort. Shenanigans ensued, and as we left the panel room there were Smirnoff people waiting for us, as they needed us to sign forms letting them know whether or not we were okay with our face possibly showing up in the footage filmed in the panel room (I didn’t care, so I said it was fine. Now to wait and see whenever the footage comes out, if I show up.)

There was a signing following the panel in the large autographing area, but I chose to instead run to the next panel I wanted to see, which was a panel of several new authors from sci-fi/fantasy publisher (an imprint of Macmillan) Tor. The panel featured authors Ilana C. Myer, Seth Dickinson, Lawrence M. Schoen, and Fran Wilde, and was moderated/run by John Scalzi. The panel it self was almost purely ‘for fun’, and each new author got some time to talk about themselves and their new book, after which Scalzi asked them all a series of sci-fi/fantasy themed ‘would you rather’ question (and we the audience got to weigh in once the authors all gave their answers. Long story short, most of us would choose to be artistically honest dictators.

There was a signing after this panel as well, and I went this time, as I decided to purchase a couple of books anyway, and the signing was in the ‘bookstore’ area, which was run by Word bookstore. One of the books I bought was one of the new ones, and I got it signed before I headed back to the show floor to wander and stare at things a bit more. In addition to the stalls selling everything, there were some other things in this area, such as an ‘Avatar’ (James Cameron’s Avatar) themed little area, spots where one could try out soon to be released video games, a Star Trek captain’s chair made entirely out of MegaBlocks bricks (basically Lego not made by Lego), along with an awesome Weta Workshop area which featured a number of their creations on display, including models and props from the upcoming Warcraft movie, and I think they had some makeup demonstrations there during the day as well. Another fun little area was Jurassic World themed, and they had an actor in a full on raptor costume, along with a raptor ‘trainer’. The best part was when the little ‘show’ was over, and the ‘raptor’ got out of the little enclosed space and walked among us bystanders (snapping at us as it did so) before it was called off.

By that point it was (finally) time for me to go to another panel, another purely ‘fun’ one, titled ‘Fantasy Draft League’, which is what it sounds like; four authors ‘drafted’ a fantasy questing party made up of pre-existing fantasy novel characters. The authors involved were Eleanor Herman, Zac Brewer, Sarah Beth Durst and Bradley Beaulieu, and was moderated/judged by Sam Sykes and Naomi Novik. I know I’ve told you in the past to follow Sam Sykes on Twitter because he’s simply hilarious, and he is just as funny live. Just go ask him which fantasy team he thinks would be able to kill more ten year olds. Nope, I’m not going to give more of an explanation of what went on at that panel.

Following that, I decided that to get the full Comic Con experience I really should go to one of the giant panels. As I’d already missed the Game of Thrones panel, I decided to go the Star Wars: Rebels season 2 sneak preview, where I and hundreds of others got to see two not-yet-aired episodes (short story, they’re great, and this season looks to be off to a good start). Not much else to say about it really, other than that we all got some free swag afterward.

That was the last panel I had planned on attending, but things were going to be going on for a while longer yet. As such, I decided to go back to the show floor one more time before it closed in about ten minutes. This is where my day took an unexpected, and interesting turn. My walk this time took me to the publishing companies’ area, which I had passed by several times earlier but had never stopped at. I soon found myself near the HarperCollins booth area (quite a large space, actually), and noticed an interesting giveaway they were running (which I think was thematically linked to a new book they were promoting, but I can’t recall the name of). They had this locked chest, and on top of it was a jar filled with dozens of identical looking keys. Basically, you got to choose a key from the jar and try it on the lock. If it worked, you would get whatever was in the box (it seemed that tried keys were taken from the pool, and that there were to be up to 2 or 3 winners per day. So I decided what the heck, no harm in trying, especially as the show floor was due to close in about 3 minutes. As I got to the front of the relatively short line, one of the HarperCollins people remarked that she didn’t recognize me from earlier in the day, and that this must be my first attempt (so people could make at least a few tries throughout the day), and made a beginner’s luck joke.

Expecting nothing, I reached into the jar, pulled out a key, and tried it in the lock. The lock opened. Needless to say, the HarperCollins people freaked out a little at the seeming predicted success, and I got to see what was in the box, a $100 American Express gift card. As I recall, it took a little while to fully process what had happened–I never win anything. But now  I can claim the distinction of having gone to NYCC and come back with more money than I got there with.

There really was no way to top that moment, but there was still stuff going on, and as I only had the one day pass, there was no good reason to leave just yet. So I decided to check out the Artist Alley, as it was an area of the con that I’d heard about, but hadn’t visited yet. Like pretty much everything else, it was crazy huge, and I spent a good half an hour plus just walking around, looking at art and stuff. A lot of very impressive art, and it was shockingly busy considering the hour, though there may have been many people who, like me, headed over there after the show floor closed.

The last panel/event I went to was a panel on the TV show Legends, which stars Sean Bean (who apparently lived through the entire first season), and he was the main attraction at this panel, which also featured a new episode (or clips of one; I got there late). I can confirm that despite all his onscreen deaths, Sean Bean is doing just fine in real life, and I may check out this show now, which I had not even heard of until I saw the panel info. As most panels seem to, it concluded with a Q&A, and I prepared to head back home.

There was just one problem; my phone was literally on 1% battery, and I really did not want to travel for over half an hour with a phone that’d certainly be dead by the time I got back to my neighborhood. The good news: I’d brought my charger. The bad: I couldn’t find a damn outlet anywhere in the Javits center. I don’t know if I was just looking in the wrong places, but I spend at least 10-15 minutes searching wherever I could think (panel rooms & the show floor were closed, so they weren’t options at this point. Eventually, I was forced to give up, and resigned myself to not having a working phone for a while. As I was walking out, however, I noticed something on the floor between the two sets of doors–outlets! So I plugged in my phone, took out a book, and hoped that I didn’t look too sketchy while I waited it to charge enough to make it home.

Funnily enough, my being there actually helped someone else who was in the same predicament, as he noticed me charging my phone as he was heading out as well. He was able to use the other outlet there while I continued to charge, so I feel I ended my Comic Con day with a good deed.

So that’s all of my ramble about my first ever time at New York Comic Con. I would definitely go again, though I’m not sure when that next time will be, as I’m planning to move far enough from New York where it’ll be a major trip and project to come in, and I wouldn’t just for Comic Con. But I will go again at some point in the future, as soon as the opportunity arises.

If you live in the New York area, or close enough that you can relatively easily get there, I highly recommend it, just prepare in advance for a slightly overwhelming and crowded experience (especially if you go on the Saturday or Sunday.)

So until next time (which hopefully won’t be too long from now, keep on doing the geeky things!

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